Anecdotal as it may be, it seems as if there has been an increase in crime of late as Kirkland neighborhood blogs and emailings are full of incidents of vandalism, burglary, assaults and worse. It is helpful to be reminded of best practices for crime prevention so we have compiled some resources here which may help you to protect your family from crime. Watching out for suspicious activity on your block is always a good practice.
Crime in our Neighborhoods
The Market and Norkirk Neighborhoods, for example, have been the target of car prowlers and burglars recently. This past week, our neighbors across the street were burgled in the middle of the day on our otherwise quiet, peaceful and safe Norkirk street. These are indeed scary times.
Similar stories come in from every neighborhood in town.
Many citizens are asking for more information on where crime is happening, what is being done about it and how we can prevent criminals from targeting our families. So, here is where you can find more info:
The City of Kirkland has a great resource called Community Crime Mapping which shows what crimes took place where over a specified period of time. This information is current and displays the size and seriousness of our problem.
We were unable to pull up year over year comparisons from the Community Crime Mapping site to see how crime of this past month compares to a year ago. It would be interesting to know the trend.
WHEN DO YOU CALL 911?
Examples of when to call 911 are:
When you see smoke or fire.
When someone’s life and/or property are in immediate danger.
When you see a crime being committed.
When rescue or emergency medical assistance is needed.
When you are not sure, call & let trained personnel decide
WHO DO I CALL IF I DON’T CALL 911?
Unless you need an immediate response to a fire, medical or police emergency, call the Non-Emergency number at 425-577-5656. Using the non-emergency number keeps 911 available for true emergencies.
Some examples of times when you should call 425-577-5656 are:
Your house or car was broken into yesterday.
Your runaway child has returned home.
You need to add additional items to the burglary report which you made last week.
Your car was stolen sometime overnight.
Someone stole your bicycle while you were at school.
There is an abandoned vehicle on your street
Ten Tips To Keep Burglars Away From Your House - Source: http://www.yourmodernfamily.com/keep-house-safe/
1. Internet: Don’t tip off criminals on the web. Never post anything on social media sites about your upcoming trip that could let people know you will not be at home.
2. Tell someone: Tell neighbors you’ll be away. If you have a good relationship with a neighbor, consider leaving a copy of your key in case of emergency – or at least your contact information while you’re away and the phone number of someone locally who has a key.
3. Timing matters: Put lights on a timer. Install a timer that will turn on certain lamps throughout the house at specific hours daily. Giving the impression that your house is occupied is one of the surest ways to deter theft.
4. Do your best and Lock up. It sounds almost too simple to mention, but it’s too easy to forget to latch less frequently used windows and doors.
5. Security systems: Set the alarm. If you have a home security system make sure to set it before leaving the house. Alert your security company that you will be away.
6. Secure Sliding Glass. Sliding glass windows and doors by placing a wooden pole in the groove of the tracks when the door is shut. My parents do this and it is a great idea. My dad just cut a piece of wood to fit- it just “jams” the door so that it won’t open if the wood is sitting in the grove of the door where it normally slides.
7. Get online and stop your mail. Make sure to put a “stop” order on mail and newspapers, or arrange to have a friend or neighbor pick up your mail while you’re away. You can call or do it online.
8. Pull the plug. Unplug your TV, your computer, the toaster oven and other small appliances to protect them from power surges.
9. Think like a criminal… Remove your spare key. If you keep a spare key “hidden” outside, make sure to bring it indoors while you are away. It is such an easy way in!
10. Hide and lock up your valuables. Lock up jewelry, the deed to your home, wills, and any other valuables or sensitive documents in a fire-proof safe.
Crime Prevention Tips - Kirkland Police Department
The Kirkland Police Department has an excellent Crime Prevention site which lists, in part, the following tips:
Home Burglary Prevention Tips:
- Don't make your home appear to be easily accessible. If it looks difficult to enter, is difficult to enter, and is well-maintained, chances are they will try somewhere else.
- Place sufficient lighting in the front/back of your home and garage.
- Use deadbolt locks as secondary locks on all doors. Ensure you have 2 1/2 - 3" screws in the door frame strike plate to reinforce deadbolt security.
- Fortify your windows and sliding glass doors with secondary locks or dowels that fit securely in windows. Dowels can be made of wood, PVC pipe or metal. Secure your garage doors with a padlock or a sliding/cane bolt. Lock the door that leads into the house from the garage.
- Develop rapport with neighbors. You are more apt to look out for each others' homes & property if you know each other.
- Trim all landscaping below windows to avoid concealment areas.
- Make sure your address is visible from the street so emergency personnel can quickly respond with ease.
- Don't let mail or newspapers pile up. It is a telltale sign that you are gone. Arrange for a friend or neighbor to collect these items in your absence.
- Get a dog. Dogs are a good deterrent to burglars.
Tips to Help Avoid Identity Theft
- Shred financial documents, paperwork and mail containing any personal information.
- Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
- If being asked for your Social Security number to verify your identity, ask if you can provide a different form of identification.
- Keep your personal information in a secure place at home.
- Carry only identification information and credit cards you'll need when you go out.
- Never give out personal information over the phone, through mail, or over the Internet unless you've initiated the contact.
- Don't use obvious passwords (for example: date of birth, mother's maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number) and never carry them with you.
- When ordering new checks, pick them up from the bank instead of having them mailed.
- Get a secured mailbox. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes only. Have your mail held if you're planning to be away from home for an extended period of time.
- Always check your monthly financial statements carefully against your receipts.
- Regularly check your credit reports (free once a year!) Equifax at 800-525-6285, Experian at 888-397-3742, and TransUnion at 800-680-7289.
- Never enter your credit or debit card number through a website unless it offers a secure transaction. (A secure transaction will have a "padlock" icon at the bottom strip of the web page. Also, the URL address will change from "http" to "https" on the page where you input personal data.)
- Never click on links sent in unsolicited e-mails. Use updated firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your home computer.
Tips to Avoid Having Your Vehicle Prowled:
- Lock all vehicle doors and secure windows and convertible or soft tops, even at home, in your own garage, and even if you're only going to be gone for a few minutes.
- Never leave valuables in your vehicle (including: cell phones, MP3 players, purses, radios, GPS units, garage door openers, cameras, chargers and other accessories, clothes, bags, paperwork, etc.)
- Park in well-lighted areas.
- Trust your instincts! If you hear something suspicious (glass shattering, for example) or see someone looking in multiple vehicles, call 911 immediately. You are the eyes and ears of the Police.
- Have an alarm installed and place a sticker on your window indicating your vehicle is protected.
- Avoid parking next to trucks, SUVs, vehicles with tinted windows, or anything that can serve as a shield for thieves. The more open space and light you have, the better.
Tips to Avoid Being a Victim of Robbery:
- Be aware of your surroundings and conscientious of who is nearby.
- Plan your route to avoid uninhabited parks, parking lots, garages and alleyways.
- Walk with a purpose; project an assertive business-like image and make eye contact with people. As much as possible, walk or travel with a friend, even during the daytime.
- Carry minimal items; overloading yourself can make you appear vulnerable.
- If you use bank machines (ATM’s) choose one located in a well-lit, busy spot like inside a grocery store. Put your card and cash away before leaving the machine.
- If a car follows you or beckons you while you are walking, do not approach it. Instead, turn and quickly walk in the opposite direction to a safe and populated location.
- Pay attention to the uncomfortable gut feelings that often warn us of potential danger.
- Don't be afraid to cross the street, return to a business, or ask for help based on a "funny feeling".
- If a robber grabs your bag, do not play tug of war. If you hang on, chances are you will be knocked down, hit or kicked, and the robber will get your bag anyway.
- If someone demands your property and displays or implies in any way that they have a weapon, hand the bag or wallet to them.
Tips to Avoid Having Your Business Robbed:
- Have at least two employees open and close the business. Businesses are vulnerable during opening and closing because there are fewer employees and customers around, and cash is often handled at these times.
- Maintain as little cash as possible and make frequent and varied bank deposits. Post signs stating there is limited cash on the property.
- Leave cash registers empty and open after hours.
- Place a surveillance camera behind the cash register facing the front counter.
- Arrange advertisements, flyers, displays, signs, posters or other displays in such a way that they do not obstruct the view of the register from inside or outside your business. The police patrolling your store need to see in.
- Stay alert! Be aware of who is in your business and where they are. Watch for people who loiter without buying anything. Also, be cognizant of suspicious activity outside your place of business. Write down license plate numbers of suspicious vehicles.
- Greet customers as they enter your business. Look them in the eye and ask them if they need help. Your attention will discourage a robber as they don’t like to be noticed or have personal interactions.
- Adequately light the interior and all exterior sides of your business.
- Cooperate with the robber for your own safety and the safety of others. Comply with a robber's demands while remaining calm and thinking clearly. Make mental notes of the robber's physical description and other observations important to law enforcement officers.
Tips to Avoid Assault and Increase Your Personal Safety:
- Reduce or eliminate opportunities: avoid distractions like cell phones, head phones and music players. Avoid over burdening yourself with multiple bags and heavy parcels.
- Increase your awareness: When walking use well lit and well-populated areas, when approaching your car make sure no one is hiding in or around your vehicle and when parking your vehicle always park in well-lit areas.
- Trust your instincts.
- Be prepared. Think, don’t panic. There is no single action to take if you are attacked. Your best defense is to be prepared and know your options and capabilities.
- Do whatever it takes to survive. Remember, you are the victim. You have nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about.
Tips for Vandalism/Graffiti Prevention:
- Keep up the neighborhood. Make every effort to keep the appearance of a neighborhood clean and neat. Remove litter and trash, fix broken fences, trim landscape, and ensure all lighting is working properly.
- Remove graffiti promptly. Rapid removal of graffiti is an effective prevention tool.
- Encourage citizen reporting.
- Employ graffiti resistant surfaces such as: Graffiti resistant materials or coatings, textured surfaces, and dark-colored or colorful surfaces.
- Change the environment (some examples are landscaping, install lighting, use fences and limit access).
Bicycle Theft Prevention Tips:
- A thief can steal your unsecured bicycle in seconds. Follow the prevention tips to protect your bike
- When purchasing a bike, keep the receipt and take a clear photo of the bike. Keep the photo and receipt in a safe place.
- Record the make, model, and serial number of the bike. The serial number is usually located on the rear wheel or beneath the bottom bracket where the pedals attach. Keep this information in a safe place with your color photo.
- Lock-up your bicycle. Use a case-hardened "U" lock or hardened steel chain and padlock, and attach your bike securely to a sturdy fixed object.
- Remember to also lock parts attached with quick-release mechanisms.
- Lock your bike in an area that is well lit and can be seen by passing pedestrians and motorists.
- To prevent the theft of accessories, such as lights and bags, they should be detached and taken with you when the bicycle is left unattended.
- Don't leave your bike unattended in your yard- even for a second.
- Don't hide your bike in the bushes- thieves know where to look.
Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound
Fighting crime is not just a job for the police. Everyone can join the battle through Crime Stoppers. The citizen-support program allows people to tell about criminal activity without getting directly involved. Anyone with information on a felony crime can call Crime Stoppers at 206-343-2020 or toll free at 1- 800-CRIME 13 and give the tip to police without giving his/her name. Cash rewards of up to $1,000 are paid for information leading to the arrest.